As any manager knows, building a team and hiring staff every year can be exhausting work. There are countless models to follow, and countless considerations that can pile up and, if not careful, overwhelm a person with decisions.
To give an idea of what hiring looks like for this organization, here’s a couple of numbers:
- MBC and Widjiitiwin hire around 165 seasonal staff every spring & summer
- Widjiitiwin has a team of approximately 50 staff working at any given time.
- To have a full team working requires approximately 60-70 workers and volunteers
- 80-90 – the number of applications we typically see for Widjiitiwin each year
- 39 – The number of shows we do as a team, some job fairs, some camp fairs
To put these numbers into perspective, remember that we try to interview every applicant. In 3 years, I can think of only 2-3 applications that did not result in an interview, and that is often due to other opportunities coming up.
What does Widjiitiwin look for?
Great question, and in case you’re taking notes and anxiously anticipating the secret to getting a job at Widji, sorry to disappoint you, but there is no one thing. There is no secret sauce or magical quality that makes one staff member a sure hire and another a maybe; this is because there are many things that stand out and not always for the better. To make it easier for parents and staff to understand our process, I’ll outline some of it below; but only some of it because it’s too long otherwise.
Step 1. Applicants are encouraged to read the information on our team found here. They can learn about pay, timelines, what the job descriptions are and finally apply. *It is critical that people are concise and accurate in making their profile with correct birth date and email address.
Step 2. We set aside blocks of time and invite the staff to choose when they can interview. Interviews go to the first to respond.
Step 3. We have established an interviewing process that results in a debrief page that uses common language so the whole team can reflect on the same elements of a person’s character. Here are some sample questions:
Prefacing the interview, we like to begin the conversation stating that we won’t ask anything we’re not comfortable answering ourselves, and if anything makes you uncomfortable we want to know so we can change the question or talk about something else.
Q.1 What is the most important thing at camp for the role to which you have applied?The answer to this question is Safety. People cannot go anywhere without a start, and the starting point for campers is that they are safe: Emotionally, Physically and Socially
Q.2 Define for me a man/woman of God.There are many correct and wrong answers to this, but what we are most interested in observing is what the person’s value structure is based on. Where do they get this definition and to what are they aspiring toward?
Q.3 Tell me about yourselfAgain, lots of good answers here, but what we look for is how people define themselves, what is important to them and the language used in the response is important to observe.
Once through the Interview, our debrief form use measurements to assess teamwork, personality and fit, also allowing the interviewer an opportunity to express comments.
With all the paperwork filled out, we then meet as a team and look for matches, dynamic duos and trios per say. Working on teams in the past, we’ve learned that 2 people can do more work than 3 individuals when they are dynamically motivated, engaged and inspired together. If we can identify these pairs early on, then this is the beginning of identifying where we will put the strongest matches on our team.
With our dynamic duos starting to make up the team, we then have a very difficult decision to make: To whom do we say no? We can’t hire everyone, even good candidates are rejected. Sometimes good staff are offered work that they decide they don’t want to do and then we have to find someone else. This makes the process dynamic, and at times prolonged while we assess multiple candidates.
This is a topic we don’t get asked about very often; that may be because we call it “Development”. We feel that this distinguishes our objectives. You can train an animal and a plant, what we want to do is develop the character and capacity of our staff into a more competent and responsible staff member. This includes skills, and also behaviour, but also comprehension and outlook.
Directors, Leadership and Front-line
Directors are responsible for the decision making on a high level around camp. People report to them and they are responsible for outcome and experience. We seek out directors and sometimes they come to us. These roles include Program, Ministry, Waterfront and SALT director.
Leadership staff provide direct supervision to front-line staff. Some of these staff provide support to the cabin leaders and oversight on things like discipline and devotional times. We have engaged the CMHA to provide Mental Health First Aid training to specific leadership, providing competent care for special cases and the well-being of our staff. Other leadership staff give immediate oversight to activities and games. These staff focus on the camper experience and what we call Program.
Front-line staff deal directly with campers and facility. This would include custodial duties and cleaning, cabin leading and dishes. These positions are in many ways the most critical roles as camper care is what we’re all working towards. These staff receive hands-on instruction in their activity areas from certified and experienced instructors. Workshops also include coping with stress, diffusing conflict, Biblical training and facilitation.
It is extremely hard for us to make these decisions when a lot of our applicants are valued friends and past campers/staff, and a lot of prayer is involved in pursuing what God would do with this ministry. Through all of it we appeal to the Holy Spirit to guide us with wisdom, and view this place as something we steward – This place doesn’t belong to us, but continues by God’s grace as long as he provides what is needed to do this work. We aren’t perfect, and must at times take a step away from things to let God work through us.